Puslapio vaizdai


my car?"

taneity in her high good humor, a heady “Yes," responded Clara, indolently. quality about her bold, alluring ways.

“Auntie wants you." She was simply the sort of girl, Paul re- “All right,” said Clara, amiably; she Alected, one had to kiss. God had evidently did n't move. "I don't care if she wants created her for that purpose, and she me," she announced in a gently triumseemed to be perfectly willing to fulfil the phant tone. The low footfall of the designs of the Almighty.

Lovely Lady was heard. “Do you want A little out of breath, his pulses ham- me, Auntie?” called Clara. mering, a feeling of being "a devil of a "No, dear." Clara smiled subtly. fellow" surging over him, he sat down on "Clara?" said Louise. the front porch. The Lovely Lady was Clara arose softly. there; she looked at him with an

“Let 's walk,” she said. There was a fathomable glance that suddenly made his little thrill in her voice. “The streets are heart beat faster, and that seemed to im- so sweet at night, with the linden-trees in plore him mutely:

bloom.“Don't send me back into the shadow. There was a witchery about her. Unyears; don't envelop me with a fictitious resisting, Paul followed. They moved

. mantle of age.

You see, I 'm young as away like shadows, without speaking, spring, and as shy." Impulsively Paul wrapt in some vague enchantment. They said:

were down at the gate before Louise's “Won't you take a turn to-morrow in voice was again heard:

"Clara!" Under the electric light one She hesitated; she smiled at him with might have observed that Clara again adorable shyness.

smiled subtly. "Oh, do come!" urged Paul.

Time moved swiftly with Paul the next "Very well,” she said; and from the day. By the time dinner was over he had tone of her voice Paul gathered the touch- a little bit the feeling as though the moveing information that this to her was a ment had been as rapid as that in a movgreat adventure.

ing-picture show. Between Clara and "It takes very little to satisfy some wo- Louise he began to have a slightly breathmen," he reflected; and thought with an- less feeling. He strolled down to the end ger of Consuela Dare who exacted so of the garden by himself, smoking to catch much of a man.

his breath, to reflect, complacently, upon She left him. In a moment the blonde their rather open-mouthed expression Clara was beside him. The front porch when he had driven off with “Auntie.” had benches running the length of it; four At the other side of the gray picketpeople might have sat there; Clara, evi- fence there was a rustic grape arbor; from dently making room for two ghostly visi- the inside of the grape arbor came a rustors, sat close to him. She looked up, her tling of skirts; a charming head protruded blue melting eyes in his face:

now, framed in vine leaves and delicate “I 'm glad you've come,” she said tendrils of brown curls-a face full of softly.

delicacy and piquancy, the nose tilted up, "So am I," responded silly, innocent the wide, golden-brown eyes wild, while Paul.

the mouth, with its delicately fashioned "You are not just going to pass through corners, was sophisticated.

She had a Lebanon?" Her voice quivered a little. long, straight throat. There was a touching quality to her that "Hello, man!" she remarked. made Paul wish to comfort her.

"Hello, girl!" responded fatuous Paul. “I think I 'll stay a day or so,” he said. "I am not a girl," responded the sophisA sigh of deep relief escaped her.

ticated mouth, which, despite its words, From within came Louise's voice: held a wild wood note; "I 'm a widow “Clara!" it called.

thank God!”


“Thank God!" echoed Paul, the obvi- "She 's worth the whole lot of them,"

he thought vaguely. “The whole lot of “Come over and sit in my hammock them” stretched very wide, almost reachwith me,

now invited the widow. "My ing the place where Consuela dwelt. name is Simone Drummond, and I 'm ter- You


have observed that up to now ribly bored."

Paul has had but little time to moon about "We 'll soon alter that,” said Paul. concerning Consuela. What he was aware

"Oh, will we?” said Simone, clasping of was not having time enough for talk her hands. “Are you sure we will?" with the Lovely Lady.

"Absolutely," said Paul, who now, poor His reflection concerning the Lovely thing, was feeling slightly wicked and An- Lady was now fulfilled by the appearance thony Hopeish.

of a little shell-tinted wren of a girl. She They talked. She was young and was round and small, with quantities of lovely; she had been unhappy; when what soft, drab hair, gold at the points. She she referred to as “his horrid estate” was stood in a charming embarrassment before settled, she would be rich. Paul need n't them. When she was introduced to Paul, think because she used the vocabulary of she merely let her eyes rest on him like levity that she had no mind; she had. She those of a child and said nothing. She was was a Feminist, very advanced; she hinted very young; there was something about that her life had been such that only her her both touching and pleasing. natural goodness had kept her from being Her name, it seemed, was Clover driven to extremes of opinion. Was Paul Branch. Soon after having imparted this a Feminist? Oh, yes, indeed ; Paul was information to Paul, the Lovely Lady exanything that she liked. Oh, he held ad- cused herself. She seemed, Paul reflected, vanced views, most advanced! Did he be- to be always doing this in favor of the lieve in Ellen Key ?

very young. Paul had never heard of that lady, so There was a silence; then, after a long he believed in her devoutly.

sigh, Clover said: And why on earth was Louise Kellogg “Oh, how I wish I were pretty like lashing up and down her back yard like a Clara and Louise !" lioness deprived of her prey?

Paul found nothing whatever to say to This, Paul wittily remarked, he could this remark, which embarrassed him, exnot tell her.

cept, "Why?" They both laughed at this. Already To this Clover replied, with limpid inthey were in that perilous state of mind nocence: when anything serves for a joke between “So you 'd like me better." a man and a woman. How advanced he “I like you as you are,” said Paul. was he now proved by dishing up some of What else would you have expected him Hemmingway's philosophic trash about to say ? men and women being more adventurous "You've passed my house a hundred together.

times and never looked at me.” Her voice When he left, it was almost supper-time. was like the mourning of a dove; and now

"One gets acquainted quickly in a des- he perceived that it was a dove and not a ert," she remarked.

wren that she resembled. After supper he sat on the porch with “And where do you live?” said Paul. the Lovely Lady. She had been young “Next door." when she drove with him, touchingly so; Up to this there had been only one next but now the shadows of age had again door to Paul. mysteriously shut in about her. Despite Then she covered her face with her her smooth skin, there was that about her hands. that foreshadowed spinsterhood in a way "It 's awful," she said, "it 's awful for that to Paul was touching and unbearable. me to have come over here just to get


"Come over and sit in my hammock with me,' now invited the widow. My name

is Simone Drummond, and I'm terribly bored””


introduced! Oh, what will Clara and frisked before him not long before, “Hang Louise say!" She fled.

it! I can't kiss everybody, you know!" You naturally expect, don't you, that Now mark what may befall a man in a Paul soon offered to take Clover Branch short time. to ride in his motor? Your expectations It was six forty-five, and supper was are not disappointed.

over. Not until a quarter past eight

would one start for the sociable. The Turn on the hands of the clock for an voices of Clara and Louise in altercation extraordinarily busy week. I mentioned reached his ears: before that Simone was fair and young “Widow or no widow," came Clara's and had been unhappy; you will not have voice, “I should think you 'd be ashamed forgotten that they started off with “Paul to use a harpoon the way you do. You beand Simone." But also, living in a house


the very first night he came here. You with them, it was astonishing how much know it.” time he found for persiflage--and this "Well, I like that!Louise cried in reword is a euphemy-with Clara and sponse. "I began the very first night, and Louise, and since Clover Branch had hung you! Harpoon!" just indignation choked over the fence and looked at him with her. “Let me tell you, Clara Kellogg, I dove eyes and said, “Oh, take me for just prefer to be a harpoon than a piece of Aya turn!” he had done so. As the French say, “What would


Contrary to his intention, Paul removed Alone, the Lovely Lady had faded out himself to smoke his cigarette at Simone's. of the picture. At the end of a week A week has passed, remember-a week in Paul was no longer feeling like a devil of a desert! A week filled with the coma fellow, which sustaining emotion had panionship of a swiftly moving and perilborne him along at such a headlong speed. ous friendship; a week full of windy talk Indeed, at this belated day the idea was about the equal place in the world of men beginning to penetrate Paul that it was and women; a week where they had branabout time to “pull out of here.” There dished their spears against the old demon are situations when you either go on or Convention, where they had had the fine, you don't.

heady feeling of being free spirits. She There was that night a strawberry so- allured him and eluded him; she led him ciable at the church, and Paul invited to on, and Aed from him only to return to it the Lovely Lady. She seemed sur- him again ; she was a sweet, soft thing, a prised.

delightful thing. Paul was everything ex"Why, if you really want me- ” she cept in love with her. He had been making hesitated.

love to her, or was it she who had made "I really do," said Paul, earnestly. She love to him? But there was a limit somesmiled at him. Paul had the uneasy feel- where. "What the devil do you do with ing that it was compassionately that she them when you have made love to them?" smiled, and comprehendingly. He wanted was what he was beginning to ask himself. to shout to her, “No, I am not hiding be- There was no place to go but on, thought hind you; I like you best." But naturally he despairingly, and “on” precisely was

some things one cannot say, just where Paul was not going to go. though during the week Paul had found There was, though the reader may have a great many more things had been said forgotten it, Consuela. than he had hitherto dreamed possible in He went over, meaning to tell Simone this vale of tears. He was in a distinctly that he was going, and somehow - now ungrateful frame of mind.

There was a

here we come to the meanness of men's pasha-like blaséness about Paul at this situation - he felt like a skunk in having moment, a feeling of satiety of a sort that to tell her that. had made him think when Clara had Why, I ask you? Had Simone at this

there are

moment pronounced the word "Good by," I ask you, when women do things like and vanished, our sympathies would be this, must n't we reconstruct our point of with her; but there is not a man living view? Men must be allowed to refuse who does not know how difficult these the unwelcome advances of ladies with words would be to speak to a woman in dignity; and yet there are prehistoric repthese circumstances, especially as they tiles like Hemmingway still on earth who greeted each other as though they had not not only uphold the old theory that you seen each other for years.

must never let a woman bat an eye at you "Paul!"

in vain, but also that you must begin this "Simone!" Their hands clasped. nefarious business yourself.

He sat down moodily; the disgust of When a woman refuses a man, how too much life enveloped him, the conver- does she feel? Properly pained, we trust, sation between Clara and Louise jangled but perfectly in her own right, dignified, disagreeably in his ears.

and aware of her virtue. And how does a For Paul the hour had struck; right or man feel? Like the things that crawl, of wrong he was through. Yes, ladies and

course; like the worm, like the hound. gentlemen, just as girls get through in Since it is being done every day, civisimilar circumstances.

lization must find a way out of this im"Paul?" Simone's voice came quiver- passe. ingly out of the dark—“Paul, we can't go I plead for Paul. He and Simone had on like this.”

jumped into this together; to be sure, Paul "No," said Paul, gloomily.

knew that he was engaged, and Simone "We are not children,” said Simone. did not. On the other hand, Simone bePaul said nothing.

gan it. Girls have often done the same. Simone put her hand on Paul's; her And then, besides, it was not the engagegolden-brown eyes were fixed on him ap- ment; they each took their chances. In pealingly.

fiction we always have it the other way "We'd better go in; it 's mosquitoy out around, but life splits at fifty and fifty here."

Paul muttered uneasily. There was no He gathered himself together, and with Anthony Hopeishness about him this time, great precaution he walked around to his you perceive.

own abode with the view of eluding Clara "Paul, this has been too intense to go and Louise until it should be time to take on in the usual way; it has taken us and their Aunt Miriam to the sociable. He whirled us up."

was drenched in humiliation. He had de"Uh-huh," said Paul.

ceived a perfectly nice woman into pro“I know you 'll understand what I 'm posing to him; he wished to God that he going to do, Paul. I suppose you are n't had a keeper. A glad thought shot ready to marry, -men of your age rarely through him. He had one; there sat the are in a position to,—but I am, Paul. I able, hot-tempered, and ardent Consuela have plenty for both of us."

ready to perform this much-needed task. Paul felt as though a blood-cell had A voice in the gloom assailed his ears. burst inside of his brain. This was what It was the little voice of Clover Branch. things had led to; he was being proposed "Good evening, Mr. Brockway," said to!

she; "don't forget you promised to take You know what he felt like? He felt me for a little turn to-morrow morning.” like a cad; he felt like an oaf; he wished He followed over the fence. he had never been born; he begged her to “I 'm sorry," he said. “I can't take forgive him; he was beside himself. Not

you; I 'm leaving." that he showed it, for it was as though he "You ’re-y-you're leaving?" Her were frozen. It was Simone who mobi- voice faltered. lized first, and vanished in the dusk.

"Yes, leaving." He wished to God it


for us.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »